Text: Émilie Mathys
Photo: Jeanne Martel

“Despite the difficult conditions, we try to see the positive side of things”

Maryna Melnyk arrived in Switzerland on 16 April from Ukraine with her parents and now lives in the canton of Vaud. Despite the difficulties she has encountered, she is grateful for the reception Switzerland has given to refugees from Ukraine.

“Just this morning, I learned that bombs had been dropped on my home town,” Maryna Melnyk says softly, emotion forcing her to stop talking for a few moments. Arriving at the asylum centre in Boudry last April, then passed through the Beaulieu temporary accommodation facility, the Ukrainian woman and her parents have been given shelter for the past four months (they were told two weeks) by EVAM, an establishment for migrants in the canton of Vaud.

“We were lucky to be able to get to Switzerland, but it caused a lot of stress, especially for my 70-year-old mother, who is in a wheelchair. This situation complicates a lot of things, especially for medical appointments that we have to get to. But we were warmly welcomed. As soon as we arrived, we had an appointment with nurses, then psychologists, who asked us questions about our mental condition. We were then referred to a Russian-speaking doctor for an individual check-up.”

The 40-year-old, who used to work as a civil documents manager, notes some understandable differences between the Swiss and Ukrainian systems: “Pharmacies in Ukraine offer a wide range of freely available medicines, including antibiotics. Here, even if they’re free for us, it’s difficult to get them without a prescription. We have to get used to this new system. It’s sometimes complicated, because we have very little information, but we manage to stay informed by word of mouth.”

“Even though the living conditions can be difficult in a crowded facility, and the days can be long, we try to look at the positive side of things. We can finally sleep again. The beginning was scary because airliners frequently fly overhead here, and that brought back bad memories. I am very grateful for the reception the Swiss have given Ukrainians, knowing that I can always find help, or receive care. But for now, our only dream is to go home, but that, we cannot do.”